The Residents of the Fourth Precinct

By Brad Dison

The residents of Washington Township’s Fourth Precinct in Ames, Iowa were unenthused about the upcoming 1972 presidential election.  The Democratic Party’s nominee was Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against the incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon.  The residents of the Fourth Precinct cared nothing for the campaign promises of either candidate.  In fact, because of a new redistricting plan, the residents of the Fourth Precinct showed no emotion at all about the upcoming election. 

In the spring of 1971, the Iowa Supreme Court drew up new legislative districts in an effort to produce House and Senate districts of equal size.  Iowa state law required all precincts to be of nearly equal population but the precincts could not cross legislative lines.  The law about legislative lines took precedent over the population provision.  In not so simple terms, a precinct had to be wholly contained within a legislative district.  No part of the precinct could extend into another legislative district.  As the Des Moines Tribune explained, “the precinct is bordered on the north by a legislative line, and on the other three sides by the City of Ames to which it cannot legally be attached for voting purposes.”  Therefore, the new redistricting plan created the Fourth Precinct.

On election day, Nixon won in a massive landslide and received nearly 18 million more votes than McGovern, the widest margin in presidential history, and all without the help of the Fourth Precinct.  Not a single resident of the Fourth Precinct visited the polls on election day.  Not one.  None of the residents of the Fourth Precinct gave an opinion on the presidential election before or after the election.  You see, due to the quirk in the Ohio State Legislature’s new redistricting plan, there was only a single building in the Fourth Precinct, a facility known as the Experimental Animal Production Area.  All of the residents of the Fourth Precinct were pigs.

 Sources:

1.      Des Moines Tribune, November 2, 1972, p.1.

2.     Sioux City Journal, November 3, 1972, p.15.


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